Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable have set the Force’s budget for the next financial year at a special public meeting today.
Jane Kennedy and DCC Carl Foulkes approved a balanced budget for Merseyside Police for the next 12 months at a meeting at the Commissioner’s office in Allerton Police Station.
It follows a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises the Commissioner’s work, where members considered and unanimously endorsed Jane’s plans to offset the impact of a £3.3m government funding shortfall by increasing the amount paid by local people towards policing through their Council Tax bill by 1.95%.
This equates to an increase of £2 a year for a Band A property – the lowest category of Council Tax and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside.
This increase received the support of 80% of respondents during a two week consultation held by the Commissioner in January, during which more than 1,100 people gave their views either in person or online.
Even with the extra contribution provided by local people through the police precept, the Commissioner and Force will still have to find £6.8m of cuts in the next financial year in order to balance the budget.
Jane said: “Setting the budget has not been an easy task, every year the government are expecting Merseyside Police to do more with less. They are stretching the thin blue line as far as they can.
“By March next year, the Force will be reduced to 3,580 police officers – 420 lower than the 4,000 we need. I consider that Merseyside Police is underfunded by at least £21million, which is what it would cost to recruit those 420 officers.
“What is worse, the Government assumed that local taxpayers could pay more and cut the grant accordingly. Thankfully, when I asked local people their views they demonstrated their willingness to support their local police force by agreeing to contribute a small amount extra each week to help keep police officers on the beat.
“I don’t take the decision to increase the policing precept lightly, particularly at a time when family budgets are stretched, and I thank people for their ongoing support. They have demonstrated their commitment to supporting local policing, sadly the same cannot be said for this government. The Government’s promise to protect the police is broken.
“I will continue to do everything I can to lobby ministers to provide an appropriate level of funding to Merseyside Police to continue to deliver its really effective work. In the meantime, I will work with the Chief Constable to maximise the resources we do have to provide the best possible service to our communities. The Force has recently undergone a major structural overhaul in an attempt to modernise the way it works and save money and we will continue to look for new ways to deliver policing as effectively as possible.”
View the full Budget Report